The Recording Academy actively represents the music community on such issues as intellectual property rights, music piracy, archiving and preservation, and censorship concerns. In pursuing its commitment to addressing these and other issues, The Recording Academy undertakes a variety of national initiatives. ArtsWatch is a key part of an agenda aimed at raising public awareness of and support for the rights of artists. To become more involved, visit Advocacy Action @ GRAMMY.com and sign up for Advocacy Action E-lerts.
On April 27 the Computer & Communications Industry Association released a study seeking to quantify the economic contributions made by U.S. industries that rely on fair use or other copyright limitations and exceptions, such as safe harbor protection for Internet service providers. The report summarized fair use industries as accounting for $4.7 trillion in revenue and 17.5 million jobs in 2007. The Copyright Alliance objected that CCIA's methodology takes an overly inclusive approach to defining fair use industries, skirts over the fundamental role played by copyright-protected material, and lumps licensed uses within its overall estimates. When CCIA released its original 2007 fair use study, it provided a comparison to entertainment industry efforts — making the point that copyright has value but fair use also has considerable value. Several recent ArtsWatch columns touched on new demands for rigorous quantitative estimates of piracy. The CCIA report suggests other types of intellectual property data that could be added to policymakers' wish lists.
World Intellectual Property Day was celebrated on April 26. In recognizing the event, the Department of Justice announced that 15 U.S. attorneys will be added to its Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property program and 20 FBI special agents will form four regional intellectual property squads. This year's World IP Day was also the 40th anniversary of the World Intellectual Property Organization, which used the occasion to unveil its new logo.
The Federal Communications Commission had an impressively busy April, moving ahead on its National Broadband Plan as summarized by Chairman Julius Genachowksi on April 21. Genachowski also testified before a Senate Small Business Committee hearing held April 27 on "Connecting Main Street to the World: Federal Efforts to Expand Small Business Internet Access." On April 29 the House Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet heard testimony on "The National Broadband Plan: Competitive Availability of Navigation Devices." This effort to separate cable set-top boxes from cable subscription services is a favorite of many consumer and technology advocates, who would like to see a competitive marketplace develop between service-neutral devices that could add innovative features, including broadband Internet.
On April 21 Facebook announced plans for improvements to its social media environment at a developers' conference, including alterations to its default privacy settings. On April 27 the company heard from four senators, led by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who expressed concern about the changes and anticipation regarding the Federal Trade Commission's examination of social media privacy issues. On April 29 both Facebook and the FTC testified before the Senate Commerce Committee at a hearing regarding children's privacy. Facebook Director of Public Policy Tim Sparapani described the firm's approach to protecting minors and privacy as well as its extensive efforts to help users understand how to interact with the Web site's privacy settings. Sparapani expressed the hope that lawmakers will take a legislative approach providing incentives for innovations they would like to see, and added that the way Facebook handles privacy on a technological level is so carefully tailored to statutes presently in place, changes to the regulations could require the company to redesign the underpinnings of its technological approach.
Digital media identification leader Audible Magic and licensing firm Music Reports officially announced a strategic partnership on April 22 to match song information in their respective databases. Music Reports Senior VP of Business Affairs and Business Development Les Watkins said, "For too long, digital music users have had no way of knowing which songs are controlled by which music publishers and by which collecting societies.... Through this partnership with Audible Magic, we will open up lucrative direct licensing opportunities for music publishers, while reducing transaction costs and overall royalty payments for social media Web sites and other music users."
On April 26 the Internet Streaming Media Alliance and the MPEG Industry Forum announced that ISMA will cease its independent operations, the two organizations will merge memberships, and MPEGIF will go forward within ISMA's California non-profit corporation status and no longer exist as a Switzerland-based organization. This consolidating merger reflects the perception that ISMA's role helping develop MPEG streaming video standards — now commonplace on the Web — is "mission accomplished" and that the industry forum promoting the use of MPEG standards will be stronger and more efficient by taking over ISMA's residual assets.